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Earth versus Sun: a precarious relationship in space

The Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture 2021

  • 18 Nov 2021, 7.00pm to 18 Nov 2021, 8.30pm GMT
  • This is an online event.
  • This event is free
The Earth and the Sun
Join Jenny Carter as she explores the relationship between the Earth and the Sun

The intimate, yet turbulent relationship between the Sun and Earth dominates space around our planet. We are familiar with one consequence of this interaction, through the spectacular displays of aurora, and other effects include currents induced in long distance cables, or the loss of signals and damage to spacecraft. Collectively, we term these effects `'space weather’. Understanding this space weather is paramount for our technology-dependent society.

In this talk, we will explore how our Earth is protected from the Sun’s solar wind by its magnetic field. We will follow how the Earth’s magnetic field gets buffered and altered, as the solar blows stronger, weaker, or changes direction. We will see how the SMILE spacecraft will soon revolutionise our view of near-Earth space by taking the first images of the solar-terrestrial interaction. Space near Earth is highly dynamic and volatile, and this drama is played right above our heads.


Jenny Carter is a researcher in the Planetary Sciences group at the Department in Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester. She received her MSci in Physics with Astrophysics from University of Bristol in 2002, and her PhD in 2011 from Leicester. Jenny is heavily involved in preparations for the SMILE mission, which is due for launch in 2024. She is leading efforts to combine observations from ground and space-based experimentation in conjunction with SMILE. Jenny is an alumna of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Rising Talents UK & Ireland physical sciences award 2020. She has recently been awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. Jenny is also passionate about the public engagement of science and making science a part of everyone’s culture.

This lecture will take place online via Zoom. You can join the live online lecture from 19:00 – 20:30 on Thursday 18 November 2021 by registering via Eventbrite. A link will be emailed to you before the event allowing you to view the lecture via Zoom - no account is required.

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